HOPE renewal for all of Georgia

Due to rising enrollment rates and tuition hikes, HOPE—Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally—may be restructured  during this upcoming Legislative session in the State of Georgia.

Amit and I want to outline our administration’s approach to the HOPE conversation by moving forward and encourage both feedback and active participation. We feel very strongly about the scholarship and supporting our student body. HOPE provides an outlet for some of the best and brightest students of the state of Georgia to be reimbursed to study in-state and further contribute to the state’s economy and growth. This has many positive implications in both the public and private sector.

Recently, a few concerned students have approached me. They contend that by proxy of my straw poll “vote” on a conference call, Tech, in turn, supports casino gambling as a revenue source for HOPE. Let me clarify. As a member of the Student Advisory Council (SAC), I serve as a voice for the undergraduates of Tech to a group of student body presidents and the State in the University System of Georgia (USG). About three weeks ago, we held a conference call to discuss funding sources and the restructuring of HOPE.

This call solicited an entirely non-binding straw poll “vote” for casino gambling as a potential solution—in fact, all 17 of the participants unanimously agreed that this was a discussion to gauge preliminary interest. We are not tied to this position. On the contrary, we plan to amend it (if needed/wanted) per our initiatives below.

To this point, the Undergraduate Cabinet’s official position is: Supporting new revenue sources for and/or restructuring HOPE as a merit-based scholarship for high-performing students in the state of Georgia.

Casino gambling is merely one [potentially promising] option that has not been “ruled out.” There are many other options to be considered. Our commitment is to maintain the worth of a Tech degree by having the highest-performing students attend the Institute—HOPE is a key piece and incentive.

We plan on putting together a working committee of Undergraduate Representatives from the UHR and other interested students to write a position paper for our administration. We will use it when presenting to the SAC, the press, the GT administration, the USG, etc.

We plan on soliciting interest for a dedicated open forum including all Undergraduate Representatives and students to the issue.

We also plan on having an online survey and database feedback channel for all undergraduates to participate in.

Lastly, we are open to all further suggestions and thoughts; all data and opinions collected alongside the position paper will be taken to members of the SAC and Board of Regents as the opinion of Tech.

Tech plays an especially unique role—we enroll a larger number of out-of-state students than the other institutes across Georgia. Still, even for those out-of-state students, HOPE plays a critical role in maintaining our collective academic prestige. We attract many of Georgia’s best in-state students from studying elsewhere in the country, raising the appeal of a Tech degree.

Our time line for making a decision as Tech undergraduates is within the next month before any action is taken across the state. We plan on reaching every corner of campus through the above initiatives.

On the state level, we are building rapport with legislators (some who are speaking on campus), investing in a successful voting registration drive and promoting civic engagement for all students. With HOPE, we are planning a concerted, tactful approach to the Chancellor’s office and the State Legislature based on our students’ responses. And to be most effective, we want all 34 Institutions of the University System of Georgia to be “on the same page” and to be a united student body across the state, even if we cannot come to a consensus on all points. I am working closely with the other members of SAC to make this a reality.

I encourage you all to reach to me by email  at [email protected] and share your thoughts—join the conversation, attend GT Day at the Capitol next semester and get involved! Tech students can make a tremendous impact in the State when participating in civic engagement like registering to vote, visiting the Capitol, etc. and taking an interest. This shows the Board of Regents and Legislators not that we only care, but that we act!

We’re incredibly excited to represent Tech among other campus leaders to best support our current (and future) in-state students with the potential restructuring of HOPE and look forward to hearing from all of you.